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High School Teacher Embraces ‘New Normal’; Offers Online Exam Preparation

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High school teacher Kizzy McKinney-McPhee.

While she is missing the one-on-one connection with her students during this time of social distancing, educator Kizzy McKinney-McPhee is doing her best to make her virtual lessons as engaging and cohesive as possible.

She is also enjoying the fact that parents everywhere, and society as a whole, is seeing the true worth and importance of teachers.

An educator with over 20 years of experience under her belt, she now has to adjust to various new ways of teaching and new platforms on which to do so.

“Using the digital platform can seem difficult if you don’t find ways to manipulate and make learning fun for the students. The students that I have come in contact with are a bit shy at first, but they tend to relax once they see the atmosphere created allows them to be themselves. They find the sessions enjoyable and sometimes we may go over allotted time because some students are determined to get it done, and others may just need a little more time,” said Mrs McKinney- McPhee, who currently works as a teacher at C H Reeves Junior High School.

As parents are grappling with the educational challenges of their kids, Ms McKinney-McPhee decided to offer her “Craving English?” tutoring services via Zoom, available in both one-on-one and group sessions.

“Parents are slowly realising that schools may not reopen for the remainder of this term and are looking at possible opening in September of 2020. Therefore, parents will begin to search for platforms like ‘Craving English?’ to keep their children involved, current and prepared,” she said.

“After scrolling through social media and seeing the hilarious memes and comments by parents and teachers alike, I went into teacher and entrepreneurial mode. I try to look for a silver lining in every dark cloud and encourage others to do so. I decided that I could become a great asset to parents by easing their fears of their child missing out on so many months of instruction. There were also students I saw inquiring about the national exams and I heard their concerns. So I decided to launch ‘Craving English?’ where I could reach all students who may desire or need that extra help in English language and literature.”

Her online tutoring caters to students from grades six through 10 in the subjects of English language and literature. These are the years, she said, when the students are transitioning from primary into junior high and moving onto their BGCSEs. She is also concentrating on BJC concepts and is preparing students to be successful in the national exam. Topics range from essay writing and reading to listening comprehension, letter writing, and grammar concepts.

“This is my passion, and I wake up every day motivated to impart something new to my students…My love for teaching stems from those teachable moments when you see the lightbulb finally light up after you have been teaching a concept and they grasp it. It’s so gratifying to know that you just made an impact on that child’s life. As educators, we shape the lives of each child we come into contact with and even, to some extent, their beliefs...You can’t fake being a teacher. It has to come from within, because when you stand in front of those students they will know,” she said.

Like teachers all over the world, Mrs McKinney-McPhee has been gratified to see that the reality of COVID-19 and the consequent lockdown has opened the eyes of many parents as to the true worth of teachers. She said it makes her smile to see people expressing appreciation for the teaching profession.

“They are even suggesting that we are not paid enough, finally. I speak for all teachers when I say it is unfortunate that this crisis had to happen for most to truly appreciate the value of teachers in our society; for we are truly essential in the upward progression of our country. I heard celebrities create songs just for us, I have heard a parent say they would give teachers whatever they want just take at least 10 children at a time at home. Oh yes, they appreciate us a bit more now. It is our hope that moving forward there is a greater appreciation for all that we do,” she said.

“Being an educator is not an easy job. No, our Summers are not too long. No, the breaks we have are not too much or frequent, and no, we do not have any days off. During the Summer we are planning how our classrooms are going to look in September and what new materials we are going to introduce to our students. During the breaks we have children as well and we are either marking exams or grading papers, and during the weekend we have to plan for the upcoming week and again mark papers. Our job never stops, so that is why I say you have to have a passion for this profession.”

As the quarantine continues, Mrs McKinney-McPhee said her plan is to expand to helping students with the area of public speaking; preparing them for interviews, and also creating power point presentations that are culturally relevant for parents to purchase and download should the need or desire arise to venture into home schooling going forward.

“I am also looking to eventually expand to cover other disciplines such as math, science, history and religion - the core subjects. Perhaps one day it may eventually develop into a virtual school. There are exciting things coming and my mind is constantly going on how can I improve, what could be beneficial, how can I make an impact,” she said.

Mrs McKinney-McPhee can be contacted at kizzy_mckinney@hotmail.com and telephone number 431-0982.

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